Reflections Of Art

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What is the difference between a modern version and an acoustic version of a song?

Music is a vast territory with lots of terms and implications. I always used to get lost into the terms, and even if I had the curiosity to try to understand, I was going from question to question until I actually forgot what my original search was.

The same thing happened to the acoustic versions of the songs. I can’t remeber when I first heard the term, or better said when I first started to be aware of it, but I guess it was not long ago. It would be an interesting experiment to search into my childhood winamp list (yes, it is still there since nine years ago when I left my hometown, nobody touching it since then for other purposes than listening to music) and see if I have any acoustic version of a song.

Anyway, getting back to the subject, what does acoustic mean? Well first of all you should understand the variety of instruments that exist and a bit of history.

Ever since music was invented, people tried to improve it, make it sound better. Instruments evolved, and if in the old ages people were singing with the help of grass and seaschells, with time they developed a bunch of other instruments: violin, guitar, harp, whistle, piano, drums etc. And things were pretty good. Famous musicians used these classical instruments into their works. Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, all great musicians appeared during these classical instruments era.

But it seems that this was not enough. Electricity was invented, society evolved, and people started to demand some new sounds, something that would take them out of their routine. At that point, electricity and musical instruments combined, giving birth to new sounds, more powerful, more melodic and with more success to the public. This was the way that electric guitar and violin (and of course other electric instruments) appeared.

And now going back to the acoustic version, an acoustic song means one that is sang with the help of the classical instruments, which are called acoustic: acoustic guitar, acoustic violin etc. So basically, acoustic is this version of the song unaltered by electricity, synthesizers and other sound modifying tools. It is the pure version of the song.

Electric Guitar (left) vs Acoustic Guitar (right)
Acoustic Violin

Now from my observations, acoustic versions also have some other beat, they are slower, less intens, with lower notes and require a lesser voice tone. But perhaps I am wrong,I haven’t found anywhere that this would be a characteristic of the acoustic songs, so it is only my biased opinion.

Now which of the two versions is better? From my point of view, I would say both. If I am in a mood for something strong, loud with high impact, I like the modern version. I usually listen to it when I am at work and need some inspiration and something that would keep me awake. However, if I am in that chill mood, in the evenings before bedtime, I prefer the acoustic version. It calms me down and I feel it creates some other connection with the singer. To better understand that feeling, I will explain to you a bit more detailed.

In the modern version, whether it is the original video or just the song without the video, I feel like the artists have worked hard to make something general, something that would catch the attention, something with impact. However, when I listen to an acoustic version, I feel like the artists are who they want to be, their natural selves. I feel the acoustic version is more personal and I see the artists more as persons and less as artists. You might ask me why do I have this impression. I don’t know, but my assumption would be that there are no more lights, events, often image changes and a story behind. Cause yes, the very idea of a music video is to have a story. And when you see the video you focus more on the story and less on the song. A second reason could be that in an acoustic version, the voices of the singers are natural, unaltered, I could say more human. So I guess this is the main reason why I perceive these types of songs more personal.

Below you can find a list of ten songs that I have found over time, with a sample of both acoustic and instrumental versions.

I tried to include songs from each main genre, but of course there are many others out there that would deserve a place in my list. If you have some nice options, feel free to add to the list in the comments below. I would also love to hear which version do you like best . It is always nice to hear some other opinions.

© picnicontheshelf, September 13, 2019

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